The Fort Wellington High School Relay team currently in Pennsylvania, USA for the coveted Penn State Relay Festival is settling in. The team’s appearance was in doubt up until Social Activist Mark Benschop rallied a number of companies behind the team to help offset the costs. When News Source spoke to the team members and the coach and organiser in New York, they had only mentioned some of the sponsors.
But speaking to News Source on Wednesday night, Mr. Benschop said the team members and their coach had already given up hope when he decided to call in several companies and individuals and highlight the plight of the team on his social media pages.
He said Fly Jamaica offered discounted fares and Ansa McAl, Noble Seafoods, Shakura Energy Drink and Church’s Chicken all stepped forward with financial donations. “Without the immediate assistance of these mentioned companies, our athletes would not have made it to the USA to represent Guyana. Kudos to them! Special thanks to Robin Singh and Sherwin E Greene”, Benschop said.
A number of New York based organisations and Guyanese businesses have since rushed forward to offer more assistance to ensure the team’s successful stay and participation at the event.
The Sport Department of the Education Ministry has come under severe criticism for not doing anything to support the teenage team. According to the coach, the Department had offered to buy just two tickets although there were 18 team members. She said when they attempted to get those tickets purchased, they encountered some difficulties.
Sources close to the Sport Department have since explained to News Source that while the department has a limited budget, had it been made aware earlier of the team’s invitation to the event, it would have offered more help. The Department initially had some concern that the Athletics Association was unaware of the team’s invitation but that was eventually worked out.
The Jamaican relay team at the event is offering support for the Guyana team in terms of affording them accommodation.